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  CSPAN    Capitol Hill Hearings    News/Business.  

    April 17, 2013
    1:00 - 6:00am EDT  

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o.m.b., etc., and one of the things that always tends to slip is the capital improvements. it's just the reality of what we deal with. you have real human beings with real human needs that you need to find funding for. you have real human beings with real human needs that you need to find funding for. but i think about the facility in omaha but i don't want this to be just about that facility because there are problems all over the country where we are dealing with 1950's era buildings. in the omaha va they closed the operating suite for much needed repairs. i am sure there are stories that can be told about that all across the country. as we go through the hearing this afternoon, i would like to spend a little bit of time
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talking about facility needs i believe itountry. is an important issue. i recognize it is an issue that slips as the budget gets put together. i want to thank you for being here. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. >> i want to thank each and every one for being here today. i have had a chance to work with each one of you closely, and i a speciale that. thanks to the secretary. thank you, general. thank you for being here and the work you do. you have been saddled with a tough job, and you have received some criticism, and some of it has been pretty unfair.i think you have done a great job considering the conditions you are faced with. i appreciate your leadership and your service to the country.very much. now, i will be the first to tell you i do not agree with everything you have done, and there is plenty to improve on,
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but we have made great strides under your leadership, working with some complex issues. the cost of war, the men and women coming back from iraq and now afghanistan and the injuries, both seen and unseen, that you and your staff have to deal with and everybody on the i cand has to deal with. tell you that i have been on this committee for six years and have had numerous meetings in montana, and i have found one person that does not like v.a. health care. the rest of them love it.i just want to say thank you for your work. this is a $152.7 billion budget that invests significantly in our veterans, and we need to make sure we spend it as effectively as possible. that is an important job, and we need to proceed in a way that honors our military folks and their service and one that makes most sense for taxpayers as to go forward.
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this is an important discussion, whether we're talking about vet centers or of cemeteries or homelessness or education, there are plenty of issues to talk about, and how we make this i want work is important. to thank you for being here. i look forward to the discussion. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and so not to disappoint the senator from west virginia, i not only acknowledge that the budget is a 10% increase, $7 billion more than the senate approved a month ago. so he has topped us, as well as what needs to be done. i also point out that unlike a lot of preparations units, with the department of energy, we are talking about mandatory spending.
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when they come back from overseas, we have a commitment that will drive how much we spend, and we should never shortchange it.we cannot look at it as an efficiency or savings. we have to make sure we run the department as efficient as it can be and find our savings there. i commend the president and the senate and am thankful to the soldiers who fought for us overseas. for my interest, my point is two things -- suicide and the benefit claims backlog.those are terrible, protracted problems that i know you are facing. i acknowledge the compliments that everyone has given you, but those are the priorities we need to focus on if we get the v.a. responsive to those coming back. i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and likewise, i do not have a lengthy statement. it is good to have you here.
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we appreciate your service, not only to the v.a., but so many ways through your career and the team you have assembled. as you hear the mood of the comments so far, i do know that you know it is important that the public understands this is not a partisan issue, this is something that i think both sides are very much committed to helping here in the senate, and also spending a lot of time in the house with the congressmen there. they also are totally dedicated to trying to see if we can figure out how we can solve these very difficult problems, to the suicide issue, the benefits, but also the ongoing, as was said from the senator from west virginia, which can be proud of the system we have.
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we're doing a lot of things right. we have two v.a. hospitals in arkansas that are excellent. that has taken hard work. we appreciate the efforts there, and i think we have to address these other things, but we have some things we can celebrate. thank you. >> thank you. >> i really do not have an opening statement. i want to thank you for doing the hearing. thank you, general shinseki, for all the work you have done, moving forward with the relationship with the travel community up in alaska and the efforts there. we hope to see some good progress. second, you have put resources in this budget, which i will be anxious to hear about disability claims. we had a hearing, and your staff survived the last hearing, and we appreciate that, but there is a lot of effort there to make
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sure that goes forward. last is the effort you are doing regarding homeless vets. this is one of your top three priorities. in alaska, homelessness issues are severe because of climatic conditions and other things. thank you for being here. i look forward to your budget and am anxious to hear your testimony. >> it is now my pleasure to welcome v.a. secretary eric shinseki. thank you, general, for joining us to give us your perspective on the president's 2014 budget and the advance preparations request for the department of veterans affairs. we look forward to hearing your testimony. the secretary is accompanied by other undersecretaries. also have the executive in charge of the office of
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management and the chief financial officer, and also the acting assistant secretary for information and technology. your remarks will be submitted to the record. please begin, and thanks for being with us today. >> distinguished members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to present the president's budget and 2015 advanced operations requests in the president's v.a. budget. we value your part in support of providing resources needed to assure quality care and services for veterans. let me join you in acknowledging other partners here today, our veterans service organizations whose insights and support make a much better at our mission of caring for veterans, families, and survivors. thank you for accepting my
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statement for the written record. the 2014 budget and 2015 advance preparations requests demonstrate the president's commitment to our nation's veterans, and i thank the members for your resolute commitment as well to veterans and seek your support on these requests. the latest generation of veterans is enrolling at v.a. at a higher rate than previous generations. 62% of those deployed in support of operations in afghanistan and iraq have used at least one of the benefits for service. v.a.'s records limits are expected to grow. our plans and resources must be robust to care for them all. the president's 2014 budget for v.a., $152.7 billion, $66.5 billion in discretionary funding, and $86.1 billion in mandatory funding, an increase of $2.7 billion in discretionary funding, 4.2% above the 2013 level.
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this is a strong budget, which enables us to continue building momentum for delivering three long-term goals we set for ourselves roughly four years ago increased veterans access to v.a. benefits and services, eliminate the disability claims backlog in 2015, and end veterans homelessness in 2015. these were bold and ambitious goals then and remain bold and ambitious today. veterans deserve a v.a. that advocates for them and then finds a way to put resources against its words, against those promises. access -- of the roughly 22 million living veterans today, more than 11 million receive at least one benefit of service an increase of over a
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million veterans in the last four years. we have achieved this by opening new facilities, renovating others, increasing investments in telehealth, and using every means available, including the social media to connect for veterans to v.a. increasing access is a success. the backlog -- too many veterans wait too long to receive benefits. this is unacceptable, and no one wants to turn this situation around more than this secretary, the undersecretaries, or the folks who come to work every day, 52% of whom are veterans themselves. we are resolved to eliminate the claims backlog in 2015 when claims will be processed in less than 125 days at a 98% accuracy level. our efforts mandate investments in people, processes, and technologies. not just technology, people, processes, and technology.
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in terms of people, more than 2100 claims processors have completed training to improve the quality and productivity of decisions, more are being trained, and new employees now complete more claims than their predecessors. use of disability benefits questionnaires, online forms for submitting a medical evidence, that has dropped processing times of medical exams and improved accuracy. there are now three lanes for processing claims, an express lane for those that will predictably take less time, a special operations lane for unusual cases or those requiring special handling, and a core lane where roughly 60% of the claims will go, and that is the remainder. technology is critical in ending the backlog. our paperless processing system will be faster, improve access, drive automation, and reduced variance.
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30 regional offices use the all will have it by the end of this year. homelessness -- the last of the goals is to end veterans homelessness in 2015. since 2009, we've reduced the estimated amount of homeless veterans by more than 17%. the latest estimate from 2012, 62,600. there's more work to be done, but we have mobilized a national program that reaches into communities across the country, and prevention of veterans homelessness is our main effort. the first phase to be completed by 2015, as the rest of veterans -- is the rescue of veterans currently the street, and at the same time we're building a prevention program to keep others from ending up there.
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mr. chairman, we are committed to the responsible use of resources congress provides. thank you for this opportunity to appear here today, and we look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. let me begin by addressing an issue that is a serious one that every member here has spoken of, and you have acknowledged, and one that is of great concern to this country. my understanding is that the v.a. is now processing more claims than they've ever before, in significant numbers, but my understanding is also that according to the most recent monday morning workload report there were nearly 890,000 claims for entitlement to benefits pending, almost 70% of which have been pending longer than the department's goal of 125 days. this number does not take into account other pending work, including award adjustments and appeals.
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here's my question -- you have and i believe you have established that goal not long after you took her position -- you brought forth a very, very ambitious goal, and you said that you wanted to process all claims in 125 days and with 98% accuracy by 2015. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> let me ask you this -- what benchmarks have you set and v.a. must meet to make sure v.a. , hieves this?in other words all of us would agree that the task that you have undertaken, going from an unbelievable amount of paper, a system that was virtually wallpaper, to a paperless system is a huge transformation, and the concern here, and others have raised it, is, what reason do we have to
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believe that you are in fact going to be able to successfully undertake that transformation and meet the goals that you have established? >> thank you for the question. i will call on the secretary to add some details. let me just describe the situation as it existed when we arrived. we had been in paper for decades. we continue to get paper today. if you are going to manage a situation, it takes a certain kind of approach and resourcing. we thought that for all long- term benefits to veterans was to end the backlog, so we set the goal of ending the backlog in 2015. we did rough calculations, and the backlog when we arrived was not defined as 125 days, 98% accuracy. if we want to make a bold move
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and help the veterans, we have to move quickly, so we set ambitious goals. we did our best estimates. we have laid out a plan in this budget that is resourceful, that drives those numbers towards ending the backlog in 2015. i think all of you will remember after we established that goal of ending the backlog, we also took on some unfinished business. we had vietnam veterans, my first year here, who were not happy that they have not had their issues addressed. in many cases i was told that we were just waiting for them to pass so we would not have to take care of them. i cannot think of a more demeaning circumstance for a veteran to feel that that is how their v.a. looked upon the situation.
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and heard the same kinds of things from gulf war veterans, 20 years after the gulf war, and the decisions regarding their health care issues. as all of us can acknowledge, ptsd has been around for as long as combat and had never been acknowledged as associated with combat, verifiable ptsd. as we established ourselves at ending the backlog, we took on three pretty significant decisions for the vietnam generation, three new diseases for exposure to agent orange, nine new diseases for gulf war veterans, and for all combat veterans with verifiable ptsd, access so that they can submit their claims. those numbers, added to the paper process we have, was going
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to grow the inventory and complicate the backlog, and we testified to that when those decisions were made. there were a number of hearings on this, and my prediction was we are going to go up, but at the same time we will put in place an automation system and that would correct all of that and in time we would bring the backlog back down. we're midstride here. we're now fueling the automation tool.it took us two years to develop it. it is called veterans benefits management system. it is in 30 of the 56 regional offices. we are seeing indications it is having good success, and we intend to field the remaining offices as quickly as possible. we had good learning that came out of automating the new 9/11 g.i. bill automating process, and the learning indicated that there is a tremendous lift that comes once you have the system fielded.
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we followed that model of fielding incrementally an i.t. program that is robust to handle as i say,s processing. we are scheduled to complete this year, 31 december. we're pulling that as far to the left as we can and fielding it as quickly as we can and doing it prudently so we do not run the risk of overreach. >> did you want to add anything? >> i would like add to the discussion that the secretary has said, i know we are asked routinely about milestones, so i wanted to give you a few milestones that we have experienced in the education claims process, which was built by the same people building the other system. we have tripled our productivity
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through the spring season as a result of the automated rules engine that went into a long- term solution, a paperless i.t. system.we went from doing 79,000 claims a month to doing more than 285,000 claims each month, reducing the days down to 4.5 days on average, where we are now today, in the backlog of our 9/11 g.i. bills claims.we are applying the exact same strategy to the rules-based capability going into vbms. the veteran will go online, which exists today, file their claim, like their taxes -- apropos to say that today -- it goes directly into vbms, and we completed that whole piece this year in january, without advertising it. we have 500 claims a week going into the system, directly into vbms, and allows us to work them.it never turns into paper. today we have 3% electronic.--
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we do not have three percent in paper anymore. we have 14% of our paper that has been converted to electronic since january.i have more than 116,000 electronic claims now, electronic folders, that we did not have at the beginning of this year, so we're moving along in the process. this week i will have another six offices on the new i.t. system. >> thank you. >> mr. secretary, the v.a. backlog reduction plan shows in order to eliminate it by 2015, v.a. will need to decide 1.2 million claims this year, 1.6 million next year, and 1.9 million claims in 2015. v.a. is saying it will decide 335,000 fewer claims in 2013 and 2014.that is in the budget submission.
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can the v.a. reach 2 million claims in 2015? that would be a 92% increase in productivity over the 2012 level. >> senator, i do not know your numbers, but i would be happy to take your numbers and come back to you. >> i am pulling them right out of the budget reduction plan, which was submitted in january. i got it on january 25. the math would work out to eliminate the backlog by 2015, v.a. would need to decide 1.2 million claims this year, 1.6 million claims next year, and 1.9 million claims in 2015. now, in the projections under the budget submission from the president, that says that over the next two years you will
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decide 335,000 less claims than what the backlog reduction plan said. i am trying to figure out if 2015 is -- you are certain on that, that means you have to process over 2 million claims in 2015. is that how you look at it? >> senator, i would love to sit and talk with you. those numbers are different from me from the ones we sent across. i would follow up with questions from your staff. i am happy to do that with you. >> in the budget submission, you say you will decide 335,000 fewer claims in 2013 and 2014, right? >> it is slightly different than the plan you received in january. it was based on assumptions that were made last fall, and there have been differences in what we have seen in terms of actuals that have been submitted.
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we have seen -- not a significant -- we have seen a drop in the number of claims submitted to us of late, so we have adjusted the budget based on those issues. >> currently nearly 70% of the claims are backlogged, waiting for more a decision for more than 125 days. the plan you submitted less than three months ago projected backlog would be reduced to 68% in 2013 and less in 2014. you now expect no more than 40% of the plan to be backlogged during either of these two years. in revising these projections, what metrics did you look at and what did they show you? >> i looked at the actual submissions of receipts of claims that we have received from the veterans of the last five months, and each month they have been lower than our expected volume. >> so the math works out to where you would have been only a
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40% backlog situation in five months? >> no, senator, it does not, and i did not think you would throw me out of here if i said that what happened. that is not where we are. we are about 69% of our claims that are older than 125 days. we're working every day to drive that number up. -- that number sounds. -- south. we are focusing on the people, process, and technology solutions, and as we can, pushing up productivity by our folks. today my raters are higher in productivity. >> last year you testified -- secretary, you testified during 2013 the backlog would be reduced from 60% to 40%, and that would demonstrate we are on the right path.
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at the time, did you envision the backlog would stay above 65% for the first half of the fiscal year, or it would be 70% in april? >> we have some apg guidance that we communicate to our federal government partners. they are usual as operational in -- aspirational in nature. when we see a change or difference, as the secretary has pointed out in terms of the workload we saw increased claims for agent orange, the increased claims associated with ptsd, we noted that we would probably not be able to meet that 40% guidance, but the thought was you leave your stretch goal out there so you keep trying to work hard to get to it.that is what we have done. >> a question -- is the strategic plan you sent to congress aspirational? >> senator, i grew up as a strategic planner, and i know every plan i filled out for the air force was a plan, and plans
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are always in contact -- they change and they adjust for reality and actuals. we have and will continue to improve upon the plan -- >> was it developed to be aspirational or to be an accurate blueprint? did the v.a. perceive the timeline would move -- >> in all planning, there is an aspect of aspiration at the beginning, and then it is with assumptions and the availability of resources, then is adjusted for what we think is achievable. a long-term plan like this one, with as much dynamics as are involved, we make assumptions as to the flow of veterans out of
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uniform to the v.a. will follow a pattern that we have provided by the department of defense. if that changes, we will have to look and see if we can accommodate that change, and if not, then we will have to say we have a requirement for resources. >> thank you very much, and i look forward to sitting down with you to look at the matrix that brought about such a change in three months, and let me just say, mr. secretary, i was not addressing the increased number of claims coming in the door, i was addressing the number of claims that are actually processed and determined, and that does not seem to be getting better. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will try to ask two questions in too short a period of time.
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it's homelessness on the one hand, suicides on the other. how do you pick the tragedy, the worst tragedy? let me22 suicides a day. just concentrate on that for a second. you are making an enormous move in mental health, bringing in the experts and the support staff. it will take time to get that into the system and trained, too. how do you look at the general population, starting with ptsd, and as it gets into the mental
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health and certain things clarify themselves and raises red flags -- how do you take somebody who is on a suicide watch list or something of that sort -- how do you go to work with that person? how do you try to break through? >> senator, the issue here is no one should have to wait for mental health care, and we have resourced our veterans' health administration by nearly 57%, an increase from 2009, to the 2014 budget. we believe this is where we have to put our emphasis. regarding the suicide number you cited, 22, four years ago were not receiving suicide information, veterans suicide information, from the states, so we wrote, and the states have been responsive. now we have that information flowing into the cdc, of which
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we have this late december, 22. four years ago we did an estimate. the number was at about 18. while this looks like a growth in the last four years, it is really a better number based on data we have received. 18 was a fair call, but we have better information with 22, and we can set about doing things that we could only speculate at four years ago. increase in the number of mental health budget that allows us to do things like increase staffing so we find that we need additional resources. the doctor will provide an update of where we are with regard to hiring an additional metal health, and i will come back and close out on suicides. >> but before he does that, can i ask my second question? >> certainly.
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>> it is easier, i suppose. i remember a number of years ago the excitement that was felt generally when dod and the veterans administration were planning to work together. i went to a number of joint facilities, and everything was full of optimism. and now all of a sudden evidently, unless i am wrong, there has been a pullback from that, electronic records, all kinds of benefits flow from this cooperation, there has been a pullback by that by dod. i'm curious about that. >> we are both still committed to a seamless transition of service members into v.a. that has not changed. we're also committed to the electronic health records that we share in common, and in the language we've come to use over the past four years the concept, it is a single joint common integrated electronic health record, open in architecture, non-proprietary in design, and
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all those terms, the code to keep us focused on what we want, in an electronic health records, when we share together and one that will be as good five years from now as it is on the day we first invested in and purchase it, as opposed to being faced over and over again with an electronics health record. we have to refinance years down the road. this is the concept of we have committed ourselves to, and i would say and that my sense is we have not backed away from that, although secretary hegel, who has just arrived, is in the midst of getting into this issue, and i agree that he ought to have time to do that. >> you do not know of any back way?
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>> i am not aware of a back away. >> i am happy to hear that. i apologize for asking two questions. my time has run out. i got to play by the rules. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, in the fiscal year from 2014 budget request, i note there is funding for just one across the entire country, a major medical facility. that is $150 million for a mental health facility in seattle. not questioning at all whether that is needed or not, but in contrast, the minor construction request is for $750 million, substantially more. that is an increase of 17.8% from the 2013 level. does the v.a. have an estimate
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of the amount of minor construction funding that is needed to keep the aging facilities patched together until they finally make their way up the priority list, which if we do only one a year, that is going to be a long way. how much money is going into trying to keep aging facilities operating? is it all that money? >> let me answer the broad question of out of our construction budget. it includes $2.39 billion for major. minor construction, non- recurring maintenance, which has a lot to do with facility condition, and major medical leases. minor construction, as you indicated, has increased by 17%, compared to 2013.this is
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important to us, because this is money that gets into the hands of hospital directors quickly and impacts more facilities for the kinds of things you are concerned about and services directly to veterans. major medical pieces, our request there is an increase of 12% compared to 2013, and here those leases are intended to provide health care delivery closer to where veterans live, and that is all this business of outpatient clinics and so forth. major construction, the request is for $342 million, and as you indicated, there is one major project here on the list. but it is a stable program, and we have a plan for in-phase funding the execution of a
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number of large projects. non-recurring maintenance, $709.8 million, remains stable in comparison to 2011 income and we're dealing with safety, facility conditions, and other needs to make sure that at the facilities we do have are safe, secure, and accessible to veterans. this is a balance across our programs, and i would offer is a stable overall program with emphasis on minor, major medical leases and assuring that the nonrecurring maintenance is maintained at a stable amount. >> you can see where i'm headed. my concern is you have a host of old buildings out there. certainly it would not be what
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you would want if you were going to build a facility, because they are probably 50, 60, 70 years old, and i am wondering if we put money into these old facilities, and to me it seems like a waste. has the v.a. studied any possibility of trying to jump- start this program, to try to get more new construction versus putting money into all buildings, or are we just where we are? >> i do not describe us as being stuck. if there is another dollar to be had, there is a place to put it in construction. as i say, it is a stable approach to a large footprint. part of our responsibility is to
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decide what part of that footprint we no longer need, and the last several years reduced the amount of vacant space consolidated and reduced the amount of underutilized space, and both categories, a 26% reduction. we do that as well. there are other pieces of our property that we can dispose of, and we do, through either demolition or look for other means to find other uses for what we no longer need. we used to have an enhanced use lease authorization, that expired in december of 2011, and our efforts to have that authorization renewed and extended has succeeded in providing for an enhanced use lease arrangement for homeless requirements only. so we do have that.
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right now we have a number of projects where we have created homeless housing for veterans, and we have others that are in design, and other work is underway, 5,500 units overall. we do manage those older pieces of property. we have need for some of it, and we need a way to efficiently dispose of it. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have more questions than we have time, but we will start with the caregivers bill of 2010, to establish a pilot so that oif and oef veterans could get care from providers for mental health in cases where the v.a. does not have capacity. the provision gave the authority
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to contract out mental health services for veterans in rural areas where providers are at a premium. can you give me any progress on this, and i say that because montana has four mental health centers serving the west, south, central, and the east, and the north, too. none of those are contracted with. just wondering where we are at. >> thank you, senator and mr. secretary. we are in the process now of developing 15 contract pilots across the country with community-based federally qualified clinics to pilot the concepts of a contract and the way they do it. if this is successful, we will
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be doing this across the and we are confident it is going to be. i was not aware of the fact that the montana clinics were not contract -- >> i do not believe they are. i will check. >> they are not contracted with the v.a. so these 15 pilots, by executive order, where are they? are they up and running so you can assess them, and if not, when? >> virtually all of them are delivering care, a number of them are doing it by contract, and some had difficulties at getting contracts executed, so they are doing it on a fee basis, but the contracts are in process and we expect within a month or two everybody will be operating. >> when will you expect an assessment of their effectiveness, late summer? >> [indiscernible] >> super. i wanted to about health care
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providers in general, mental health care providers, this can bey. answered by whoever is appropriate. we have issues that go along with the partnerships, but we have issues with folks, mental health care professionals and health-care professionals in general, being staffed up to snuff. we have had conversations off the grid with you. what kind of strategies does the v.a. use to retain a mental health work force in rural areas, and if it applies to regular folks, too, could you address them both? is v.a. you.
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flexible when it comes to training and hiring people. for clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, there's practitioners, and mental health, we have great flexibility in terms of the salary, and our salaries are competitive anywhere around the country. >> who has that flexibility?is that locally with the state v.a., or with you? >> the flexibility lies with the individual facilities. there are certain circumstances where they would have to come in, but is unusual, and they have great ranges of salaries they can work with. >> do you need other recruitment tools? >> i think that's the thing that limits us a little bit is the fact that our debt forgiveness stops at $60,000, particularly for medical students and residents. that may be a drop in the bucket, so to speak, and i would like to see if we can raise the limit which we could forgive debt. >> i would love to have recommendations, since you're in the business.i do not have any
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idea what nurse practitioners with mental health background would come out of college with as far as debt, but i would like to get recommendations at where the cap should be. >> we will talk. >> i would just like to put a fine point on that statement. $60,000 is $60,000, not a drop in the bucket, but increasing it will give us flexibility we do not have. >> some of these folks are coming out of college with 200 grand in debt. it would be good -- and we would do research on that.it is not all on your shoulders. the last thing i will have, what kind of impact does this have -- talking about flexibility on salary -- on existing staff?
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i did not want to be the devil's advocate, but if you have somebody on staff that is making 75,000 bucks a year and offer somebody new 100,000 bucks, what kind of impact does that have on you? is there some way you can address existing folks?they are doing a hell of a good job and they are already there. we do not want to take those folks for granted. >> the short answer is yes and yes. we are cognizant of the fact that particularly could be a problem, and we have ways we can address that with staff. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. i want to follow up a second on what the senator was talking about on leases. in the budget, the construction account, $6.4 million for the relocation of a facility, 7900 square feet, to a newer facility in the northeastern part of that area, a huge area that has served a lot of veterans. they are now forced to go to the hospital in decatur, georgia,
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which puts more pressure on the facility. they get to the president and to you, because i know your request has something to do with that. i hope -- two, it is a lot more efficient on cost that anything else we could do, especially with the current facility. secondly, very much. undersecretary, i notice you had a washington moment last week's when "the examiner" got a hold of one of your emails.i was reading it. having had my e-mails gotten into before, i know how feels when somebody does that, and email you sent to someone talking about a bunch of big brains to do -- in terms of claims approval. it was dated march 30, a couple weeks after are hearing where you had indicated we were kind of on track on claims, and in the email goes out looking for the best brains can get to help a crisis. can you clarify that for me?
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>> can i start and let the secretary -- i would just say from the perspective of innovation, this has been something we have been doing for three years, going out and getting the best minds to come in and help us. inside and outside v.a., casting a broad net, and the first year we got 40 initiatives which we have taken aboard, and we investigated all of them. the next year we did the same thing, and i would say this sort of fits our always looking for a better way to look for what we're doing to address the needs of veterans, getting it to them as fast a way we can. the secretary was part of that, and in 2015 when we hit the target we set for ourselves, we will still be looking for good ideas.
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>> senator, the secretary said it very well. we keep doing process improvements. it is now part of the culture, and we have people whose job it is to do process improvement, so it is nothing more than let's keep thinking about it, more ideas on the table, but keep charging hard with a plan that will get us there. we're not just looking at compensation plans, but we have other business lines, everything we do, and how can we do better to increasingly serve our veterans and family members and survivors? it was a course of action to keep going and you probably saw every other e-mail in my box, we ever did see to do a much better job for veterans. >> my hope was that, what i hoped the answer was to the question, but i pose this to you and i am speaking for myself -- we do not necessarily fall into a big-brain category -- i will speak for
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myself on that point. that might be helpful for us to come down and see what the problems are, to get our eyes on them, because sometimes we will ask questions as to why something is taking so long to do, or why it is not happening, and you give us the best picture you can give us at the time, and the next time we have the same questions. it occurred to me that it would be great to invite us and say this is where we are having trouble, have you guys have any rather than us always being the critics in the peanut gallery, and if we get down on the ground floor and see where you really are. outreach is important.it ought to be inclusive of all those who have a stake in the game. >> thanks, senator. great offer on your part.we are
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happy to take you up on it. >> one last thing, my question for me -- the veterans benefit management system request is for $155 million in this year's budget, is that right? >> that is correct. >> $32.8 million is for development assistance. where would the other money be used for? personnel, payroll, what? >> thank you for the question. the balance is to pay for sustainment costs, so the system we have been bringing online for the last two years, you have to pay the bills before paying a licensing fee on it, was the operation's cost. >> you are talking about the side license? >> hardware license and system maintenance.and software license. >> that is an ongoing cost? >> yes. >> thank you. >> thank you.
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thank you very much for being here. let me first start -- i guess you have said it in your prepared comment, but let me restate it in regards to the disability claims, restate your goal and when you think you will have as much as you feel comfortable to have under control in sense of the backlog. i know you have a target. can you restate that for me and tell me what their confidence level -- whenever you say i will keep track of. >> i would like to provide a more specific answer to you, senator, but again, this is based on our experience with the 9/11 g.i. bill, which was
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started building in 2009, and by the spring of 2010 we had version 1 and the secretary described when it all kicked in. we're still in the process of fielding it. we're soon to be 36 out of 56. we're moving as fast as we can. we started in september and are barely six months into it. we're looking at a fielding much earlier than december of this year, which is the plan. i think once we are fielded, fully fielded, we are going to begin to see production impacts. we are also -- dod providing us with electrons beginning in >> if i can4.
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interrupt you on that -- how much faith you have that dod will actually perform what you need them to do? i know it has been a struggle in the past. do you believe they will meet the goal you have for the information flow so it becomes more seamless and electronic, that dod will do what they say? >> they have committed to date and time specific. we have the date and time here. >> can we hear that? >> and they have committed to give me immediately -- >> to all new that are living, they are going to complete electronically. >> they would first give it to me in paper but are committed to building a system, but they are right now today giving me something we have never had in vba before, which is they are through and finding their
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medical records, reaching out to tricare, and pulling in their contract medical records to the business on their end, pulling back together, certifying it is complete, and handing me a fully complete medical record. >> that will be a complete record, and when will they get to electronic -- >> december of this year. >> and that is from cases that date forward, and then you have a backlog, which is the longer challenge. am i reading that right, so, now they are doing all the combining of the work, which you have the other folks in the mix, that will come to you immediately. december, electronic records of anyone leaving after december 31 will come to you electronically, and then they will commit to move those others in which way? how will all the backlog information -- >> essentially, the backlog information i'm handling -- >> your target to get that into
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full implementation of electronic is -- >> i am doing it right now. i have 116,000 right now in the electronic folder.that is since january 28 of this year. i am committed to any new plan that comes in the door, immediately turns around and this can buy one of our vendors, into an electronic -- and work through vbms electronically. if you are a veteran who is not going to come back to us, i will not expand the resources to turn you into an electronic claim. >> first off, i know you have or -- or patient centered care program. knowave $250 million.i you went up to alaska to look at resources we have in our native tribal system, which is
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similar to what that will do. can you tell me the connection, if there is resources in their to utilize the model in the v.a.? >> thank you. we are very much enamored of the newcomb model. it is similar to what we want to do in terms of patient-centered care, but it is doing things we frankly have not thought about. we have sent four teams up there so far for educational experience, and we plan on continuing that effort. i will meet with kathleen value in-->> you see that program? >> absolutely. we can learn from them. >> you had $52 million for some of the new programs which you're doing now on reservations, as
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well as within the alaska rural component.we appreciate what you are doing to work with native alaskan communities. is that enough, or do you have a sense of that on this point? i want to thank you for reaching out for the people in this country, especially the alaskan, native american, and trying to do something different with the health care systems that are there already. give me a sense. >> this moment we are getting standing up the agreements, and beginning to activate them. i think that is a good start point. let me ask the doctor and see if he has any more details. >> no word details, but we think this is enough. the 10 pilots developed to get business pools fix for this environment, and we think this $52 million will be sufficient. >> i will end there, but i have other questions for the record. that last question was and did you and i have talked about that maximizes delivered to veterans in tough locations, rural locations, so i thank you for that effort.
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>> senator blumenthal? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i apologize for being late, but i have been following some of the testimony and want to thank you all for your service, and, mr. secretary, particularly for your active-duty service to our nation and now in the department of veterans affairs, and to the president for increasing resources available veterans in a very difficult time to escalate. let me begin with senator begich's question relating to electronic health record. i understood that you describe what was going to happen, but i am not sure that i heard what the target date was. he asked for a target date for completing the program. >> we're talking about claims here.
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>> the electronic record system. recordelectronic help system is still going forward. >> we are committed to it. we await the department of defense signaling to us that we have an agreement here. i believe we are on track. secretary chuck hagel has asked for the opportunity to get into and review his church and process. that is what he is doing. >> you have no assurance right now from the dod as to when or whether it will go forward?
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>> i do not have a when other than we are both working hard. youou have indicated that agree to go forward. >> we have chosen vista as the core. there are two locations that we specified. then to fall on the fall operating capability in 2017. that is the plan. that is what both departments have agreed to. >> the department have agreed to that plan and have both committed to vista? >> dod is reviewing the decision on the core. secretary chuck hagel and his acquisition folks are reviewing
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it. >> forgive me for revealing my limited i.t. knowledge. >> we today have two different electronic health records. what we have committed to solving that problem by coming up with a single joint integrated electronic help record. all of those are a code word to get this on the same sheet of music. >> i apologize again for belaboring the point is obvious point in the room. beenetails of not resolved. this awaited a decision on
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selection. we have offered consideration that this government alone. we have put it into the open architecture. anyone else can use the code that goes with vista and will not have to pay for it. >> thank you. ismployment among veterans one of my major and paramount concerns. i wonder if you could tell us about new initiatives. >> we have taken the leadership of the white house and this as well. forces have been a magnificent initiative -- out to the private sector for corporations
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to commit the hiring of veterans as part of their campaign to help us. there's 700,000 new jobs for military spouses before the end of the 2013. that goal succeeded in late 2012. there are requests to increase 250,000. the commitment is there. in the departments of we hire veterans. we have over 100,000 veterans as part of our work force. 30's are met.
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our goal is 400. we have also held hiring fares for veterans interested in employment. we held the three of them. it is the something we have expertise in. we have learned with each of these how to bring together veterans looking for work and the employers with the jobs. we also encourage a veteran who own small businesses to stand up. a veteran business owner is more likely to hire veterans. the more successful small- business owners we have, which is where the hiring really goes on comedy more term we have. we continue to increase this with the allocations. >> if i could get for you at some point the latest numbers on unemployment are wrong veterans.
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>> we can do that. the numbers are generally improving. we have month-to-month variations. over time the unemployment rate for veterans overall has been below the national average for unemployment. for younger veterans this is still a challenge for us. we all have to do more to take this on. >> thank you. thank you for your service to our country. thank you for your testimony. >> thank you.
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we will have a roundtable discussion. there is entrepreneurs and businesses. when we last visited, which i think was in january, it highlighted the shortage of health care, especially what i am most familiar with in kansas. we have been successful with the help in opening this. we have a tremendous shortage of a nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
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most of them no longer have a physician. notnderstanding is that has changed since we visited in january. problemo highlight the once again. i also raised the topic of mental health professionals. the plan was to hire 1600 mental health staff including marriage and family therapists. my understanding, and maybe you have included this in your testimony, if that is significant number have been hired. the numbers in kansas are discouraging to me. this is not a typical way of managing this. from august of 2011 to august of 2012 there were no one fired at a kansas facility.
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usa jobs.gov has posted zero positions in kansas for either one of those professionals. as a whole they had two mft and two lpcs on staff. these two groups represent 40% of the mental health professionals in the united states but only 1% of the work force. i would be interested in your suggestions of how we can provide mental health service to more veterans. >> thank you.
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>> thank you. the mfts are relatively new positions. less than two years ago we certified them and got them into the mix of people. we are behind the power curve of what got behind these people. i do not know specifically the numbers about kansas. we make an excellent point. this is a very good alternative to the difficulty we have. i will be in communication with the about kan. specifically and what we might be able to do. >> i look forward to your response. it reminds me of the effort. i was the sponsor of legislation in the house years ago to incorporate chiropractic care.
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can you bring me up to date on chiropractic services? >> i would like to take that for the record. we do apply them at virtually every one of our medical centers. and a substantial amount of referral business outside. >> it remains a priority for me. a cut in any significant way that health care services are delivered. it may be the same pattern. the va was very slow. it was well and incorporating the mandate requirement that the va requires for chiropractic care. let me raise one more topic. i asked this question again last january. i've not received a reply. it is not in the fiscal year 2014 budget. there has been considerable planning for a joint medical facility at the air force base. not in the budget.
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i asked for a status update last january about mcconnell and va in wichita. he know the information i would be pleased to know what progress is being made. >> thank you. there is a proposal that has been developed for major construction project that would be a joint venture. it is $154 million. it was in the midst of those products that were raided. they did not score in high enough. >> where is that scoring? >> it is done by the department of veterans affairs.
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>> what does that mean for the future of this budget? the expectation would be that this project will be cemented again and will be scored again. i would like to follow up with the and see if i can find out perhaps where the need for greater information or deficiencies that we ought to be addressing. >> what usually happens on the capital investment plan? the ones that are funded it worked off. then there is a review. others moved up in subsequent cycles. >> thank you. >> i join my colleagues in thanking you and the rest of the panel for your service. i do apologize for missing some of the hearing.
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i did have a chance to talk with you earlier. we noted that nearly 50% to have comprehensive womens' clinics and you have asked for more money for an increase in the budget for gender specific medical care. is it your attention and gold at 100 term of our facilities will have these kinds of comprehensive care for women veterans? the'm going to call for specifics. i would say women are maybe 6% of our mineral population. they represent 15% of the population. we know there is growth going to occur.
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we're going to do everything we can to put in place decisions that when they arrive we are not playing catch up. if we were to look at women's veterans' funding since 2009, between 2009 and 2014. in our large medical centers we have comprehensive clinics that bring together primary care providers and endocrinologists, gynecologists, mental health professionals, all in the same areas.
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we may not even have all of that expertise. we have primary-care clinics that are devoted exclusively to women's issues and veterans. those practitioners are trained to recognize the primary needs of women veterans. and the small areas or may only have one or two providers, we train them in the needs of women. i think there will be some increase in the number of comprehensive clinics. at the most of the medical center's probably have already done that. we have an obligation here to provide a kind of atmosphere where women feel safe and feel as if the providers understand
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their specific ones that are different. the va has worked hard to try to accomplish that. >> i think that is really important. i commend you for the stakes you're taking to recognize that this is a different population. do you do outreach efforts to make sure they are aware of the services in the kind of service since -- services that are available to women at? >> we do. we have an extensive outreach program including help line up public-service announcements and advertisements. trying to make women understand their veterans.
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in many instances they do not necessarily view themselves as being veterans. they do not necessarily see the va as a friendly place. we work hard to bring the message to them. >> i know one of your major priorities is to address the need of the veterans. this is a challenge. are there particular programs are things that you are doing that worked? i understand that is not a monolithic group of folks. to any particular success with problematic successes that can be ramped up? >> we committed to ending the rescue phase. what that means is when you hear the word homeless you think of people on the street. that is visible. it is a visible population. there is a larger invisible population of homeless veterans at risk. one pavement away from being a foreclosure.
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what we are committed to ending the rescue phase, which is get out and find our veterans and unsure where moving them to treatment, to do that we have partnered with many of the communities across the country, provided funding for support of services to veterans families. we are doing work on the prevention pieces. the gi bill is the most generous education program we have. any youngster who does not complete swilling is at risk. last year we had 70,000 veterans who had defaulted on their home loans at risk of foreclosure. our analysts became involved, worked with them to lower payments and extend with financial institutions.
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they precluded from foreclosure. part of the homeless issue is mental health. in substance abuse. our help administration come a very large and aggressive programs that deal with substance abuse. we want to get this in early and get the treatment. theyxperiences is that
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generally get better. this is a broad effort. >> that makes a lot of sense. perhaps to give us data on how these programs are working in the number of people you talk to or work with. >> thank you. >> you can send me the information or the committee information. >> we have gone through the first round. i would like to ask you a few more questions. more would just ask a few questions. he was concerned about chiropractic care. i am concerned were generally about complementary medicine. i think people would be surprised to note that the va has been a leader. recently i was at the facility in brooklyn and los angeles. the directors tell me that it is widely used and appreciated by veterans.
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i want to work with you to expand this concept to be more aggressive. there are lots of folks out there concerns about medication, the ways we can deal with pain without a lot of trucks, etc.. can you tell us briefly what ideas you have as to how we can expand complementary medicine? i am talking about at acupuncture, chiropractic care. >> 89% of our facilities actively have programs. >> that may be true. if somebody is a well-trained acupuncturist, that person could not be hired under that definition.
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that is my understanding. >> i will have to find out. i am not aware that is a case. >> the places i am familiar with that to acupuncture happen to have anesthesiologist that happened to acupuncture. we do a number of different things, yoga, animal assisted therapy, biofeedback, relaxation therapy, meditation. >> i am aware of that. you should be proud of that. while you support those initiatives, there is also an argument that it has not quite filter down with us much excitement and appreciation as it might. is that a fair statement? >> i think that is a fair
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statement. one of the crucial parts is something we are engaging, research to demonstrate the efficacy in certain circumstances of certain all to get medicine therapy. meditation would be an example. we're spending $5 million this year looking at meditation and its role in treating pt sd. looking at the three different kinds of medication and work. we need to do more of that to demonstrate to the public that these things are affected. >> you're also looking at guided industry in terms of sexual assault. >> that is correct. >> you said earlier that we will proceed, we will go out of rescue phase on
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homelessness. would that be a reason there is a reduction between 2014? >> the belief that adjustment is based on the fact that we will be making good progress toward our 15 targets. the adjustments and the level of energy here. >> this included a timeline of a reduction strategy. there are decisions regarding increasing budget requests and a decision on whether it is to extend the time line. >> increasing budget requests. there may have been some discussions.
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>> according to the fy2014 information sheet, these allocated for the records. there is the enhancement. is this additional funding for those? >> thank you for the question. this includes 254 developments. >> the management accountability system creates milestones for projects to reduce risks associated with the development of large systems. how many milestones have been missed?
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>> let me take that for the record. >> we will get back to you. >> i appreciate that. according to the budget, the department of veterans affairs allocates 155 million for the total implementation of the management system.
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includesdent's request 33 million for the decrease. i think you answer that. did you tell the committee that it is going to cost $122 million a year to sustain that program in fees? >> of the amount stated, did it include sustainment? it does. >> what is the estimated sustainment cost? >> for what year? >> an ongoing basis. >> if you look at the elimination of the backlog and to think in terms of the input of an information moving from paper to electrons, the in terms in terms of how we make this, there is a multitude of
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systems out there. when you ask the question based on where you draw the boundaries, it either goes up or down. when we talk about the 155 it picks up to pay for the development on the engine, also portions of the payment fees. if i had all of the pieces up, it covers not just the engine but includes all of this been terms of the benefits that we used to bring information in that the veteran uses for self- service. they're able to do that work. the unified desktop is able to get a complete view of the status as well as the output of the sum total. it is 207 $5 million. it is a large investment to make sure not only the engine is working but to pay from that change from paper to electrons.
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>> we have to pay for any more of the engine after 2014? >> the program plan today as we turn this on and look at what the engines are and we get the same kick we are able to get from chapter 33, it is possible we will see more areas where we can automate. it is also subject to any change. >> we will continue this as we go forward. >> let me suggest.
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meeteed to come up and some of us on this committee. we would like to know when this program will be paid for. it's sometime before 2015. it is the answer to the backlog. more importantly, we need to understand better what is our long-term annual commitment to this magnitude? i realize there are parameters that might change that. we need to better understand it if we provide fair but effective oversight to a program of this size. you have been awfully generous. it is time for me to ask a question.
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i'm going to forgo that today. >> he is deeply disappointed. >> he is always neglected in these hearings. i assure him not to take them personally. >> thank you for being here and thank you for your staffing here. this hearing is now concluded. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
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>> this documentary comes from peter ackerman of augusta, maine. he is a student of cony high school and third prize winner. >> education was the gateway to opportunity for me. it was the gateway for michelle. it was the gateway for most of you. and now, more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life. >> in america, we are at a crossroads. education is becoming more and more expensive as the student loan debt has reached over $1 trillion. i traveled around my home state of maine in search of a solution. >> my college experience has been such a growing experience in many ways. intellectually, socially. >> it is more of a life experience about time management and meeting new people and expressing ideas.
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it is good to be in place with the lot of other intelligence and focused individuals and being able to take advantage of that. >> what a college education does for you is cultivate the mind, broaden the mine, educate the mind. hopefully, it instills a creative thinking about the college experience >> the college experience helped me devolved as a person. it got me ready for a job but also got me ready for life. the am so thankful for education i have gotten. the ability to think critically and study a range of interesting phenomenons and topics and analyze different issues around the world -- that is a luxury. unfortunately, i think that is where the price tag goes to.
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>> there is this growing idea that students will not be able to pay the bill that colleges require. and there is a fear of going to college which is scary for many students. >> i think there is a natural imperative to how we think about using our dollars in order to support students to get a good education without having to take on massive amounts of debt in order to get that grade education because that massive debt clearly can have an impact on their job opportunities going forward and on their lives. >> as tuition rises, the road of higher education in our country gets steeper and harder to climb for lower and middle- income families. >> with belts being tightened, we are in a bit of a crisis. the job market has decreased so people are coming out with debt that they cannot pay because they are not getting jobs or
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getting jobs that are below what they thought they would be able to earn. >> know what this is about and we were lucky to land good jobs with a steady income. we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago. that was not that long ago. >> in my day, you would work either at night are part-time during the day and pay for my books and my tuition. students would literally come out of a college program desperate and that is not true anymore. >> my mom would give me the story of years of going to school and graduate school and paying it off over 30 years. >> my sister went to normal colleges for four years and the parents had to pay for that. it is very stressful. >> we have under-invested in our students and the cost of
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their education and so we have put more of the burden of that cost on the students. students talk with today whose parents say i paid for college myself, why can't my child? it has all changed. it is not the same world and you cannot expect a student today to be able to go out and earn thousands of dollars in a semester and be able to pay that and not have students debt. >> we are underwriting a huge facility that never stops building. if you look at these universities, they are constantly building. they are constantly building because they are constantly competing for students so they can pay $50,000 to go there. >> what actually is being done? is there a solution?
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>> old government has wisely invested in a need-based system of student financial aid that is designed to help remove or at least lessen the economic barriers to higher education. >> we want them to look at student loans as a last resort. would you have exhausted all avenues, grants, scholarships, work, jobs, savings, etc - only then should you and your family look to do a lot. >> there are other ways you can get help. for example, your future employer, particularly if it is the federal government, may be willing to help you repay your student loans in return for public service. i was pleased to vote to prevent a doubling of interest rates on the new federally subsidized student loans which would have added to the already heavy debt burden that student's face.
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>> it's very hard to get a lot of productivity out of the system the way that manufacturing companies have actually become less expensive overtime with the changes in technology. that being said, there are opportunities with technology to lower the cost of education. i think our colleges and universities provide fantastic service and we should support them but we should also hold them to the market being excellent and providing these opportunities to our students. >> a large part of it goes to supplying land, as long as we're willing to pay that kind of money and students want to go there, they will be able to charge that amount of money. >> you should never really pick a college because of the price. money should not be an issue. the only issue is whether you fit into the equation.
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money can be an issue but that should not stop you from what you want to pursue in life. >> the discussions need to happen at the dinner table more and more between students and parents so they can all come to some kind of plan for higher education that allows the student to go, and at the same time, does not bankrupt the family or the student in future years. >> those are four very important years of maturation. just the experience of the education you pick up in the classroom but the education you pick up about life with some guidance which is important as well, that makes the college experience very valuable. >> small steps are being taken to make a college education affordable but america needs a long-term solution so everyone may have the same opportunity. america has always been known as the land of opportunity. need to keep it that way.
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>> congratulations to all the winners in this year's student can competition. to see more winning videos, go to student can.org. >> the funeral for margaret thatcher is tomorrow morning. she died last monday at the age of 87. we will have the three-hour guests includeed all the surviving current british prime ministers. former secretary of state hillary clinton and a representative of the reagan family. queen elizabeth the second will also attend the funeral. live coverage begins at 4:15 a.m. eastern on c-span 2.
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>> preparations are underway for tomorrow's funeral for margaret thatcher. joining us on the phone tonight is adam boulton. thank you for being with us. let's talk about who is and who is not attending, both by the delegation and others in the world. who is on the list? >> it is a confusing picture. this is not, of course, the funeral of the head of state. it is only the funeral for the head of government. unitedlook at the states, it is a pretty partisan republican last, leading the president's delegation, james baker, and also coming our dick cheney, and george, another official representative.
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all veterans from the administration in the reagan era. with the exception of dick cheney, who was the vice president. what is also interesting is on the congressional delegation, michelle bachmann is perhaps the most prominent figure there. again, someone very much on the republican side. what we are seeing is in the united states, this is being treated as a bit of a partisan event. for the french, as well. they have a socialist president. he is sending elizabeth, who was prominent in the government, rather than sending a higher official from the current government. that said, there are a number of world leaders coming. probably dick of south africa is attending, and the daughter of nelson mandela, representing him. on the british side, however, this is very much being seen as a non partisan occasion.
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along with david cameron, the conservative prime minister, we have who has been coming a leader of the labor party, and gordon blair and tony brown, labeled prime ministers, attending. in britain's cents, the most unusual attendee is her majesty, the queen, and her husband. neither of them have been to a prime minister's funeral since the death of winston churchill in 1965. that is taken as a very significant sign of respect from the head of state, majesty. isbased on all of that, what the protocol? what can we spect tomorrow inside the cathedral where the ceremony will take place? >> there is not really a per call.
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this is not like the impressive sound we have seen from american presidents. it is being invented as it goes along. it is not a state funeral as winston churchill had. it has been called a ceremonial funeral. half of it is going to be in an ordinary car, a hearse, and then there will be a transfer of the coffin to a gun carriage to be pulled by horses. if it were a state funeral, it would be pulled by sailors rather than by horses. once the service is under way at the cathedral, it will look like a very major episcopalian church of england event, where we will have a reading done by amanda thatcher, the american texan granddaughter of margaret thatcher. all british music, she did play a part of choosing what would be in the service, she chose two pylons which she had known by
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heart since childhood. one was an ode to immortality. the other was a selection by t.s. eliot. >> she has been out of power for more than two decades. she served for 11.5 years as british prime minister. how is she being remembered on both sides of the political aisle in great britain? >> she is more popular than she ever was in any one of the three elections she won. roughly speaking, over half of respondents in opinion polls
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believed she was good for britain, or a great or good prime minister. only about one-third disagreed with that. when it comes to her major policies, such as going to the war in the south atlantic, she gets higher approval ratings for that. she is received as a mold breaking and a transformative leader. some say the greatest peacetime prime minister in modern times. she is a divisive figure. we have had protests. celebrating her death parties on the streets in some parts of london. there will be protesters lining some of the route tomorrow who will turn their backs on it as it goes past. there have been protests in the house of parliament from a handful of people at the cost of the ceremonial, 10 million
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pounds. eitherains someone you love or hate. but, it is important to say this, the official opposition have supported the ceremonial being given to margaret thatcher and have found ways of praising her at the conviction politician. britain's first and only woman prime minister. >> adam boulton with a preview. thank you very much for being with us. >> the monitor is such a significant shipwreck.
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to enable history of around the world. .t needs to be observed that is the short answer. what miss senate the monitor still has is yet unfilled -- what mission at the monitor has still is unfilled. what those things will continue to do today is help us understand our relationship with the seat, relationship with america's past. >> we're currently in what is lab.ed the clean allow th this is were final treatment of artifacts is carried out. doing additional cleaning. the altman goal is to put these into the gallery and people to share as much of the story of how these operated, what they
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were used for, at their ump orical -- we know the pom was working hard to keep the ship from sinking. one of those other things to consider. here, at its got dolls were still in position. of theink of the crew monitor. the struggles they undertook. how ironic it is that today, there's still serving the nation in a very different way. understanding about are high -- are passed, helping us move forward. >> this weekend, american
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history tv looks at the history of literary life of virginia beach, virginia. including more from the mariners museum. >> ken burns on his latest project, the central park 5. john mccain and charles schumer on the prospects for an immigration bill. the commander of u.s. forces in the afghanistan testified on capitol hill about afghan operations. >> b. will talk with the judiciary committee member about homeland security policy and the aftermath of the bombings in boston. he will discuss the legislative agenda and the senate would then pardon, a democrat from maryland. cardin, a democrat
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from maryland. the white into house, she was a 47-year-old lady. she hated politics. overas deeply depressed the ballot -- over the death of her little surviving son. she did not have many friends, but she did have this wonderful family who kept her going. she is ashamed because she was this very intellectual woman, highly educated. is nowconversation
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available on our website. programmonday for next on mary todd lincoln. >> ken burns' latest project premiered on pbs tonight. we talked about the film along street at the national press club. this is an hour. welcome toernoon and the national press club. i'm a reporter for bloomberg news. we are a world leading professional organizations for journalist committed to our for morens of future information about the national press club, visit our web site.
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on behalf of our members worldwide, i would like to welcome our speaker today and those attending today's event include guests of our speaker as well as working journalists. if you hear the applause from our audience, members of the general audience are also -- general public is also participating. it is not necessarily evidence of journalistic objectivity. arlington's are featured on our weekly podcast from the national press club. you control the action today on twitter. after our guest speech concludes, will have a question and answer period. i'll ask as many questions as time permits. right, documentary a
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writer and producer with public communications inc.. .tc washington robert mcpherson, lifestyle editor. jennifer lawson, senior vice centernt for the public for broadcasting. allison fitzgerald, project manager for financial and state news. natalie reporting for "usa today. president and ceo of pbs. national reporter for bloomberg vance. washington bureau chief for nikkei.
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the is the vice chair of press club trilogy committee. in 1989, 5 harlem tenders are wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in your city central five teenagers are wrongly convicted of raping a white women in new york city's central park. despite evidence. a serial rapist later admitted to being the perpetrator, but not before these young men served complete sentences. in his latest documentary, our guest today tells the story through the vivid testimony of the central park 5. it is a painful and anatomy of wrongful convictions. the movie was directed and
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produced by mr. burns. sarah was only 6 when the event to place. when she learned about it, or that a decade later, she was so taken with the story. he film based on her buook, conspired to undermine the rights of five young men and convey to them two years in prison for crimes they did not commit. , we weret, we screened honor to have led us to of the central park 5. they have been traveling with the filmmakers around the country. in addition to drawing praise from film critics, the documentary itself has been making news. a federal judge ruled that the
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newark city may not look at outtakes, notes, or other materials and their efforts to find the $250,000 lawsuit. we will discuss this and other developments in our conversations with mr. burns. this is his eighth appearance at a luncheon. he has been called one of the most influential documentary makers of all time. won 12 emmyve awards and received two oscar nominations. oklahomaeball, the bridge, and the civil war. which is the highest rating series in the history of american public television.
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>> thank you so much. it is good to be back here. let me not. the lead. on april 16, pbs will broadcast as to our film.
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number two, it is part of the local afghan architecture. in terms of hold and build in counterinsurgency. it's proven to be the most effective hold force. and my assessment is less relevant than the assessment of the taliban. the most feared organize out there right now is the afghan local police because the taliban realize they cannot make inroads there. it's the partnership between the organizations that much made this so effective. we've learned a lot about proper chain of command and ensuring that this oversight are fully plugged into, again, the minister of interior and we are implemented layered security in each one of the provinces.
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>> thank you very much, sir. thank you for your service. >> thank you very much senator reed. senator mccain? >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome back, general. and first of all, in your written statement you have a "what winning looks like," and you have four bullet points. one says "an operationally ineffective al qaeda deprived of a safe haven from which to plan and conduct operations outside the area." have you seen any change there? >> over the years i have, senator. >> i they don't have a safe haven anymore in pakistan? >> they have a same haven inside of afghanistan in some areas, we're disrupting them but they have a sanctuary in pakistan. >> have you seen any progress there, the safe haven in pakistan? >> the progressive seen inside
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of afghanistan first -- >> my question is pakistan. >> they have not been able to conduct effective operations nor plan operations from pakistan. >> they don't have a safe haven in pakistan? >> they are still physically there. they are not able to plan and conduct operations from there at this point. >> well, that's very interesting news. today in the press clip, it says reduction of opium by afghans is up again. production is up. according to the united nations counter narcotics official, afghanistan is already the world's largest producer of opium and last year accounted for 74% of the world's opium supply is that of concern to you? >> it is of concern. it's a destabilizing effect. it breeds a criminal element and supports the taliban. >> i thought one of our objectives back in 2001 was to eliminate opium as a crop of interest -- a crop that would nowo very important when
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apparently, according to this news report, it might provide 75% to 90% of the world's supply. >> senator, in that area, our success has not been satisfactory. >> as we watch the situation unravel in iraq because of our failure, among other things, but primarily because of our failure to leave a residual force there, we continue to hear mixed reports about the size of the force that would be left behind. the chairman of the joint chiefs, general dempsey, recently testified that a combined nato force between 8,000 and 12,000 would be "a reasonable target." general mattis testified before this committee reflecting the
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opinion of your predecessor was to keep 13,600 u.s. troops in afghanistan with several thousand additional nato forces on top of that. what's your view, general? what is your number? >> senator, i'm going to not give you a number. i'm going to give awe range. my best military advice at this point is that we leave it at a range of numbers. number one, i think we need to see to you afghans do in their first summer in the lead and then make an assessment. that's november, 2013. we need to see how successful it is in 2014 and the strategic landscape which addresses the strength of the enemy, al qaeda, as well as the cooperation of regional actors. >> so you have no number to tell this committee right now? >> senator, i have not provided my number to the president yet. we're still in the process of
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crafting that. but my strongest military advice is not to pin down a right now -- >> don't understand, general, that one of the reasons why we're having so much difficulty in some areas is because the afghans don't know what our commitment is? iraqsaw what happened in where we had a commitment? don't you know they want to know sooner or later what the american commitment is post 2014? don't you understand how important that is to them? that's what they tell me. >> senator, i do. the most important mission of our commitment is the signing of the bilateral plan. i've spoken to my afghan counterparts. i don't believe a specific number is anywhere near as important as an assured commitment in the context of b.s.a. and knowing that we'll provide a level of advice and assist necessary for 2014. >> i can't tell you how
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disappointed i am in your testimony. they see what happened in iraq. they see us withdrawing every place in the world. they see what's happening in syria. they see a lack of commitment by the united states, for example, in libya, post gaddafi. they know which way the wind is blowing. for you to tell this committee that well, we'll make that decision later on. they are making accommodation for the united states' departure right now and that's one of the reasons why we're seeing a lot of the difficulties that we're seeing. i strongly urge you to do what general mattis did and that is to give us an estimate. the general didn't voice all the concerns and caveats that you just articulated. we know that the afghans wants to know what the size of our commitment is and what the size of the army that we will support is critical for their planning in the future.
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so i strongly urge you to come up with a number to tell this committee and the american people. we have a responsibility as well. for you to say well, we're just going to see how things turn out. it will term determine the size of the 2014 force i believe is a tragic and terrible mistake. >> senator, can i comment on that? >> sure. >> to be clear, i didn't say leave it completely vague. we are today advising and assisting at the battalion level. we will lift off to the brigade level this fall. the number post-2014 is inextricably linked to the level we need we need to provide -- >> you have to wait until 2014 to determine that? >> we do not,. what i suggested was this is the afghans' first summer in the league.
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-- the lead. i believe this summer will be the bellwether for afghan performance into 2014 and beyond. >> general, senator graham and us, we talk to the afghans all the time. they are not sure of what the united states' commitment will be and many of them are making various accommodations for a repeat of what happened in iraq and that's why we got a specific number from general mattis but we somehow can't get that from you. it's very disappointing. i have no more questions, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator mccain. senator udall is not here. senator donnelly? >> thank you, mr. chairman. general, in regards to the bilateral security agreement, how does that stand and what are the expectations on that? >> senator, the negotiations for the bilateral security agreement are ongoing. the next meeting between the afghans and the united states
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is in the month of may. i think we're down to several issues that have to be addressed inside the negotiations bit. my sense is that the afghan people as a whole want the bilateral security agreement but there are some difficult issues being negotiated at this time. >> is there an understanding on the afghan side that if we do not conclude a sofa it is very difficult to leave our men and women there. it is clear to the afghans we will not leave our men and women there without an agreement. >> what timetable are you looking at to conclude that? >> initially that was identified as being signed no later than november of 2013. from my perspective as soon as soon as we could sign it would be helpful. it would address what senator mccain spoke about, an environment of uncertainty. i believe a commitment on that would be helpful in addressing uncertainty.
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>> how much control does pakistan have over the afghan taliban? >> i don't believe the pakistanis have control over the afghan taliban. i do think that the afghan taliban have sanctuary inside of pakistan and they get support from individuals in pakistan but i don't believe anybody controls them. >> do you think the i.s.i. is working with them? >> there have been intelligence reports that link the i.s.a. particularly to the network. particularly to the the haqqani network. >> what control does the pakistan army have over the i.s.i. in your opinion? >> senator, i don't know. i think normally, they work for general kiyani, a former director of the i.s.i. my sense is anything the i.s.i. does is known by him but i can't confirm that.
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>> where do you see the primary source for the afghan taliban for the financial resources they receive, the military resource. where do you see that coming? >> a percentage of it comes from the drug trailed. trade. some probably 35 or 40%. some money comes from illicit taxes from afghan people and some money comes from external support from outside the region. >> when you look at the places that they go in pakistan, the frontier areas, double you believe do pakistan, number one, has control over those areas and number two, can control over those areas? >> senator, pakistan does not have control over those areas right now. they have had over 15,000
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killed and wounded in operations in that area over the past decade. they've had hundreds killed and wounded in the past several weeks that as they've tried to gain control in the khyber area. i think that's a clear indication they cannot control the border area and the taliban that are operating freely inside of that border area. >> what do you see as a rule -- role for the taliban, if any, in the future afghan government as we transition out, as discussions are taking place. how do you envision that future afghan government? obviously there are elections coming up but how are we looking at the transition for the afghan government? >> the state department has the lead now on working on a reconciliation process and trying to bring together the afghan government as well as the taliban. i don't have any insight right now that would believe me to be the taliban will be part of the political process in 2014. at some point there will have
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to be some political concessions made. i have no indication to believe that will be in the near term. >> obviously there were different parts of afghanistan that react in a different way. but when the provincial leaders and the people in the towns are making their decisions, looking at post-2014. what are do you think are the most important things they're looking for from the current afghan government, from the army to provide them with some certainty that come the next night the taliban are not going to come back and cause havoc and turn their world upside down? secureddition to being and not having those illicit taxes collected and not having the kind of oppression
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associated with the taliban in the 1990's, one of the major concerns that young afghans have is johnson. -- is jobs. 65% of the population is 25 years or less. in addition to security and a stable environment and free from the oppression of the taliban, they're also very concerned about the economy post 2014 and their ant to seek proper employment. the chairman has outlined that we have eight million that are in school today. the issue is that we raised expectations and those expectations will have to be met with an economy that will support adequate jobs. >> as we look towards the end of 2014 is there a detailed transition plan with the state department and with u.s. a.i.d. for many of the projects that much begun and many that are on the books, where do those projects go as we look forward? >> senator, it is a very
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detailed transition process. we established a headquarters joust to oversee transition. we're completely overlinked with the a.i.d. and u.s. state department. not only do we have a broad transition plan from every task and we've taken that down to a handful of tasks that still remain to be worked out but every project that's out there right now will have a detailed transition plan as well. >> you mentioned before about security zones in the country, areas that are safer than others. as you look forward to the next year and into 2014, what are the things that you're most concerned about that could go wrong? >> we're going to transition the final tranche of areas over to the afghans here this summer. that final tranche is on the eastern part of the country
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along the borders. that's where the most virulent strains of the insurgency are and the most difficult challenges from a security perspective are. five deal with tranche that will be difficult. my major concern is making sure that by the fall of 2013 we're creating the perception that's supporting the political transition that will begin in earnest. we'll have candidates in 2013. ensuring that we provide security in the areas of what are now some 7,000 polling stations is a primary focus we have in conjunction if our afghan counterparts. >> that whole eastern region, are there metrics that you look at and go we've accomplished this by now, we're at this point? do you have like a game plan of by the end of 2013 here's where
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we hope to be in those province? >> we do. we're in the process of a geographical and functional gap analysis. we want to affect a concept known as layered security. that's successful when you have everything from the afghan local police to the uniformed police to the border police and national army working together coordinated and independent with advisors, so our metrics are very much based on the performance of the afghan national security forces and their ability with limbed -- limited support to provide security in each of the provinces. but the most difficult provinces will be those in the east. >> general, thank you for your service. >> thank you, senator. senator sessions? >> thank you, mr. chairman and i, too, would like to express my sympathy for those losses in boston and if it were to turn
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out to be that it was a terrorist, al qaeda-connected operation, i think two things are important for us to remember. one is that perfect security is not possible. the united states is a great nation. it's vulnerable and we'll always be vulnerable to some sort of attacks, but the offensive approach in which we go after those who are organized and dedicated to attacking us is the right approach and it does reduce the amount of attacks that can occur, in my opinion. general dunford, i think your what winning looks like in your statement is a conclusion to this effort in afghanistan that i can support. i think it's a reasonable and legitimate definition of success. i am concerned, along with senator mccain's comments that
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success can't be just removing our troops. after our men and women have given so much, this nation has sacrificed treasure and we've lost some of our finest in this combat. to not finish strong, to not end this e. in a way that gives effort in a way that gives us maximum opportunity for this kind of success would be a deep, deep and great failure of our country. do you feel a commitment to those who've served, who committed themselves to this effort and want to see a successful conclusion occur? >> senator, i feel an absolute commitment to the men and women who have sacrificed over the past 11 years and to the families of the fallen. that, frankly, is my motivation for performing my duties on a day-to-day basis. >> and you've told us you
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believe successful conclusion is possible? >> senator, i absolutely movie believe that the things i outlined in my statement and that i referred to in terms of what winning looks like are absolutely achievable. >> well, this is an important observation but i am concerned, and i'll follow up a little bit on the question senator mccain raised. i'm looking at an april 2 bloomberg article. goes on in some depth about a group of former u.s. officials who visited there and they say that president obama -- quote the first sentence "president obama's failure to spell out his plans in afghanistan is adding to the risk that some afghans will start negotiating deals with the taliban, according to former u.s. officials who visited the country. one of those being former under secretary of defense michele flournoy, which all of us know. president obama's appointee there. do you think that's a risk
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that's occurring? agreeator, i absolutely that today we are dealing with uncertainty that has to be addressed by a clear commitment from the united states. what i was attempting to do earlier was allude to the fact that it's about more than a specific number. our commitment post-2014 is --port and are the security support for the afghan security force and the political process. it's an entire package that transcends the importance of any one number. >> all right, i'll respect that. this is a quote from former under secretary of defense michele flournoy -- "in afghanistan right now there's a huge amount of anxiety about the scale and nature of u.s. commitment long term." do you think there are actions that we are we can take to eliminate that huge amount of
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anxiety and would that not help us be successful? >> senator, i absolutely believe there are things we can do and i absolutely believe that the environment within which the afghans will assume the lead there year, it's critical we shape that environment with this idea of commitment. i mentioned the bilateral security agreement. from my perspective signing that bilateral security agreement, of course, that -- that takes the united states and the afghans to agree on by signing that will be a clear manifestation of our commitment post 2014 and i think the commitment we'll provide from the advise and assist and counter tim perspective is important. it can't be one day we make a message and allow it to go months before we say it again. i think a constant drumbeat of our commitment is necessary. >> this article notes that
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there's a historical paranoia in afghanistan as a result of the previous abandonment of afghanistan and allowing the taliban to take over. do you think that's an accurate assessment? there is a sense of uncertainty and paranoia maybe among the people? >> senator, i see evidence of that. i mentioned the age of afghans. even those who weren't alive in 1992 talk about the beginnings of civil war in the 1990's and a desire not to return back to those days. sayhe secretary went on to that spelling out u.s. intentions, including how many troops will stay will "reduce counter productive hedging behavior on the part of various parties in afghanistan and in the broader region." do you think that's a valuable observation? >> i think providing a specific range of numbers right now with the demonstrated commitment, the level that we provide
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support would be helpful. >> are you aware that one white house advisor has said no troops may remain in afghanistan? >> i read that in the newspaper. >> would that create uncertainty in afghanistan if that were thought to be a potential policy of the united states? >> senator, having no forces and no presence post 2014 in my mind would undermine or campaign success. >> well, in this article -- i just found it to be a pretty good summary of some of the difficult choices we're wrestling with and you're having to deal with. i mean, you're not the commander in chief. ultimately the president of the united states, the commander in chief, will decide how many troops are there. you'll make a recommendation up there all the chain, is that correct?
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chain?ugh the >> that's correct, senator. >> well, one of the things that was troubling to me is our commander in chief, president obama has been there five years and we've got troops on the ground in harm's way right this minute. and this is why mr. michael o'hanlon, the defense analyst at brookings said in this article april 2. one of the most consistent, i guess, observers of our operations in afghanistan and iraq of anybody in america. from the beginning he's been observing, commenting and writing about it and this is the liberal heritage foundation. he says the absence of a clear message from obama about continuing u.s. presence in afghanistan may be an indication -- excuse me. he's not saying this. this is what the writer said.
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"the absence of a clear message may be an indication that the president has not made up his mind, said michael o'hanlon, defense analyst at brookings. "obviously obama was of two minds about keeping u.s. troops in iraq after the war ended there, o'hanlon said. he may have similar ambivalence in afghanistan. isif the president ambivalent about the future, well, i won't ask you to respond to that. i will just say if the president is ambivalent about the future, what will happen in afghanistan, i'll observe, i think, without doubt, it makes your job more difficult and makes success more difficulties and we've got to get our act together. i think we have to have a clear model. message. i appreciate your firm view that success is possible.
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i think that should be the goal and the goal should not be to meet some political vision of troop levels unconnected to the reality in afghanistan. thank you for your service. we appreciate it and all the men and women that serve with you. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator sessions. senator blumenthal? >> thank you, mr. chairman and i want to join in thanking you for your service over ma many y ihave now and many othere men and women who perform so courageously under your command and want to thank you particularly for your very helpful and in fact i've heard -- and informative testimony here today which is encouraging in many respects but also sobering. i find it sobering in two respects particularly. first of all, your reference to the continuing threat from
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i.e.d.'s, a problem that has bedeviled and perplexed and stymied our efforts in afghanistan as well as iraq over the years and i want to ask, in particular, whether you view there having been any progress in the pakistanis' action against the flow of fertilizer and other bomb-making materials from their country into afghanistan. apparently the casualties and deaths from i.e.d.'s are still the biggest single source of the threat in afghanistan to life and limb there. both to our forces and to the a.n.a. and anasf. i wonder whether you could comment on whether the pakistanis have been more crop active and helpful. and helpful.rative
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>> we're not meeting with the pakistanis, specifically on the i.e.d. threat. they also recognize the threat to i.e.d.'s inside pakistan, which i think has heightened their concern. the joint office of i.e.d. defeat has had some success with working with manufacturers in pakistan to programs change to perhaps change some of the content of the fertilizer that would make it less likely to be used. we have had some cooperation with the border but i'm not satisfied yet. we still see large amounts of ammonium nitrate moving back and forth and sadly that provides the materials for the preponderance of the i.e.d.'s that we're dealing with. largely, the effects of the i.e.d.'s are being felt more by the afghan security forces even more than our forces today. >> my concern is that there
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have been more words than actions from the pakistanis and the continuing rhetoric, as you refer to it, over the years, has produced less action than there should be. >> i think it's fair to say there's less action than there could be, less than there needs to be. >> let me then go to the second sobering part of your testimony, which refers to the attrition rates in the a.n.a. aat you refer to as significant challenge, quoting you. is this problem soluble? is the a.n.a. going to be able to recruit and retain the and train the forces that it needs to repel and taken and conquer the taliban?
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>> i believe there is room to make a significant improvement in this attrition issue. i mentioned earlier that we had focused on growing the quality of forms over the last several years. the vetting process in place today is much better than the vetting process we had in place a couple of years ago. there's a direct correlation between the attrition in the afghan security forces and leadership. where we've seen effective afghan leaders, we see low levels of attrition. there is a direct correlation between leadership and attrition. the minister of defense has recently directed a study be done of all lieutenant colonels and above in the afghan forces. they have completed that study. 30 general officers were recommended for relief from their duties. were relieved from their duties. 45 additional were recommended for retirement.
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the minister of defense centralized decision making for captains and below. these are the steps that i believe have to be taken. i'm mindful of the challenges we had in the u.s. military when i came in as a platoon commander in the 1970's and we had significant attrition in the united states marine corps and in the united states army at that time. a big part of that was leadership. as leaders were held accountable and addressed that problem, the problem got better. this idea of leadership development is a two, three, five-year process but we're moving in that direction. the thing i find most afghan leadership are being held accountable by the afghan chain of command. whether they fail to perform they're being dismissed and i think that's a positive sign. >> and that effort will really
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depend on the credibility and confidence and the integrity of the afghan army, won't it? >> over time effective military action is important. >> i'm very concerned and -- with the contracts involving taxpayer dollars of the united states that may go to -- in effect benefit our enemy in enemy. we've spearheaded plans to enact laws that prevent that. organizations -- about whetherns there have been improvements generally within the afghan government and specifically related to united states contracts for goods and services? >> the n.e.a. that allowed the
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u.s. to cease contracting with the enemy was very helpful. if you had indication with a contractor or subcontractor was associated with the enemy we could immediately stop that contract. i read the recent investigator general of a chemist and's report, how to take that legislation further. i absolutely support that. it would expand that be on the department of defense so other u.s. government agencies could also have the same authorities we have been given as a result of that very helpful legislation, and also to address a different level of contracts in the past have been over $100,000. as would bring it down to a level below that. i do think we have had some improvement in that particular area as a result of that legislation. continuing to move in that direction would be very helpful. >> thank you. one last question. thechairman asked you about
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afghan interpreter's that were the subject of a recent piece in the new york times. i am very concerned about providing the kind of these as necessary often for the survival of these interpreters. providing the kind of visas necessary. do you have any observation about what we can do to improve the process? >> raising the visibility is important. i would put a personal face on it. one of the individuals waiting for a visa, who has applied to come back to the u.s. for many years was the interpreter that was with sergeant mired the day he received the congressional medal of honor. here's an individual who was part of the fight, police supportive of the advisers who that they their lives were lost or in the case the , threatened.er
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people who have supported the mission. our success would not have been possible without them. having a recognition and visibility of their contribution, facilitating their coming to our country through the bureaucratic process would be very helpful. >> thank you for your service and thank you to the men and women under your command. >> thank you. senator graham? >> thank you and your staff for doing a very good job in difficult circumstances. anduld like to revisit exchange you had with senator mccain about the al qaeda presence in the tribal regions. you said al qaeda is still present on the pakistani side of the border, but did you say not as effective? >> what i was getting at was i believe our operations -- and those not being conducted by u.s. forces -- but it seems
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there are operations being conducted in pakistan that are talibanng afghanistan in pakistan. >> has it been helpful on the afghan site at? >> extraordinarily helpful as a resort of our special forces in afghanistan. or comedy special forces do we have in afghanistan? i could give it to you, but i would prefer not to give it to you here. >> thousands? >> yes. >> we have other agencies in the fight, but we have a lot of capability? >> we do. >> we have the ability to strike in that part of the country as well. lookint is that when you at a post-2014 force, it would be a very unwise move to take the infrastructure down, you agree? >> baidu. -- i do.
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>> in mr. tran place that diminishes al qaeda's effectiveness along the tribal regions inside pakistan is a direct result of the infrastructure we have in afghanistan as well as other agencies capability. when you talk about winning, what would losing look-alike? >> senator akaka, i think losing would look like afghanistan returning to chaos, afghanistan being a sanctuary for al qaeda. the people of afghanistan once again being subjected to the oppression of the taliban in the 1990's, a sanctuary from which security and stability in pakistan can be threatened. all those would be components of losing. >> the ability of al qaeda to regenerate would be greater under losing scenario? >> there's no question about that. >> if we were seen as losing in afghanistan, it would be hard to convince the iranians to change their behavior?
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>> a credible outcome in afghanistan will influence those who would do harm. >> when it comes don't future to beto be played -- hand played, let's say for a moment there were no troops in 2014, we decided to pull out completely like we did in iraq, what would your evaluation of the outcome be under that scenario? >> if we did not have a presence posed 2014 and we did not provide security assistance to the afghan national security forces, it would be a question of time before they would devolve. >> we would eventually lose all we gained? >> i believe afghanistan would be at greater risk of instability. >> would that be true if we had to thousand troops left? >> we would not be able to accomplish both of our missions.
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when mission is to deal with the terrorist threat and the other respects security and stability and prevent the taliban from coming back. it would be difficult to accomplish those missions at a force level of 2000. >> one of the goals of the bilateral security agreement is to solidify the relationship between the u.s. and afghanistan for at least a 10- year period. >> correct. >> people are evaluating what steps to make in afghanistan and in the region. the sooner we can make this announcement in a bold way, the better off. >> i agree. >> senator levin and i have then army approache. costs $359 million a year to maintain the force? it will be $4.1 billion for the program of record. increasing that can sustain its
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352,000 is somewhere between $5,000,000,000.6000003814 dollars. that is the added cost of the force. is aa small part backe program of record through 2014. >> what percentage do we pay? >> our coalition partners pay 1.3 billion. the afghans and pledged 500 million. and we pay the difference. >> the difference between 352 and 230 is how much? >> somewhere between $400,000,000.600000023 dollars in any given year. >> the difference in capability is significant between 352 and 330? >> it would be significant. >> do you believe it would be a wise investment for the american taxpayer to continue to invest in the afghan national security forces at 352? >> i do. >> the more they have, the less they need us?
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>> i think there's a relationship between our post- 2014 present and the capabilities and capacity of afghans. >> when it comes to retention, we entered into a new agreement with the afghan government. we transferred authority for detention operations to the afghans in march of 2013. that means now there will be a criminal process that affects detainees. we have an agreement to keep the enduring security threats that are in detention at this time and future threats. we are partners at the detention facility to ensure we continue to have humane treatment and visibility of detainees post- transfer. >> is it fair to say we don't have a disposition plan for the third-country nationals we hold? >> reeseville have custody and control of them. i don't know what the plan is
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right now both 2014. still have custody of them. >> some of them are terrorists or been in quite for quite awhile? >> they are. >> have drones helped the operation in afghanistan's? >> significantly. it's one of the ways that we put pressure on al qaeda. but theyre >> if you see and al qaeda operatives out in the open walking down the road, we get a good signature on this person, but do we have to wait until they take up arms to fire or can we shoot? >> we don't have to wait. >> that makes common sense. you agree? >> i do. >> as to the future of a afghanistan, you have pakistan as the potential threat because of safe haven. you have al qaeda, the taliban, and you have the government of afghanistan, which is one of the enemies we are fighting, in many
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ways. you indicated the military will get better over time as leadership evolves and people are held more accountable. do you believe that corruption we see in afghanistan among different ministries and throughout the country can get better over time a these dumb people we have been mentoring takeover? >> i bve better, but the thing is over time. >> attend or 15-year window? >> a significant amount of time. people assuming positions of increasing responsibility in the future. >> is it a good investment on our part to stay involved with these dam people? investment,itical senator. >> thank you. senator mking. >> general, thank you. what we're facing in afghanistan and what the afghan government faces after 2014 amounts to a guerrilla war. >> yes.
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>> the doctrine of guerrilla has to swimthat he in the sea of the people or something to that effect. of afghanistanle feel about this conflict? can the taliban and all kind of tod a warm, hospitable sea swim in, or are the people loyal to the government in what we have tried to accomplish? no. there's no question the afghan people do not want to return to the oppression of the taliban that was there in the 1990's. we have a survey after survey that indicated the taliban are increasingly unpopular amongst the afghan people. that has not yet made a direct correlation to support for the afghan government. while they are opposed to the taliban returning to power, they are opposed to what the taliban stands for, they don't yet have the full confidence in the government of afghanistan to
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provide full support. >> that might apply to the people of america not been crazy about congress. but that's a different subject. you were involved in iraq, correct? >> correct, senator. correct what lessons do you take from iraq and particularly from the unwinding of our involvement that can be applied to this circumstance that we are now facing ending our involvement in afghanistan? >> one of the most important lessons from iraq is that we waited too late to work through the details of a bilateral security agreement. we were not able to conclude a successful bilateral security agreement. we have started that process much earlier. that's why i have highlighted the agreement this morning. we have had a discussion about it. the key lesson learned is to ensure we have a smooth transition post 2014, that we provide the afghan people with our commitment. see 2014 today,
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december 2014 as nothing more than a change in the mandate and a change in its borders but in continuity of commitment of 2014. if we are able to do that, we will have internalized the most important lesson from our direct experience. should be a 2014 seamless transition to a competent and sufficient afghan forces to essentially take over what we have been thrown? >> yes. we have completed political transition is what it should look like, but we are still there decisively in and advisory and counter-terrorism role under different authority. and at the request of the afghan people, what will be different is we will not be under u.n. mandate or in an armed conflict, but we will still be there and be able to provide requisite support politically and from a security perspective.
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>> you mentioned the afghan sources anticipated to be around 350,000. what are the estimates of the size of the taliban or al qaeda or the aggregate enemy group? >> senator, that is a question we ask all the time and we don't know. there are some estimates that 30,000 taliban. those that are actually an ideologically committed, taliban senior leadership is certainly different than day-to-day people who might fight on the ground, but it's very difficult to capture and no. when you talk about the taliban. smalluggest, given a number, that to the view of the people at large, as we discussed at the beginning, will be critical as to whether or not they can really gain any power in the situation. they will have to have the support of the public, you agree? >> what gives me optimism and the reason i'm optimistic about
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the campaign is it is all about the afghan security forces' ability to provide security and to the population. every dayare improving in that area. that reduces the freedom of movement, that reduces the ability for the taliban to influence the population. i believe there used to be an expression of the taliban have the time and we have the watches. i don't believe that is no longer the case. the taliban will wake up at some point and realize this is not their fathers afghan national security forces and they will be unable to influence the population in the way they have in the past. >> let me change the subject. what is the situation on green on blue attacks? has that declined or is under it indicatesn' significant infiltration? >> that is one of the most significant risks to the force. in 2012 we had a significant challenge with insider tax. we significantly improved our training.
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intelligenceter capability in the coalition as well as inside the afghan forces. we revised our tactics, techniques, and procedures and we have a much more routine and effective dialogue with afghan partner to mitigate the risk of insider attacks. are based on the numbers. we have had three in 2013 and we have 20 last year 2012 during that same time. issues that keep me awake at night, insider threat is one of those. it erodes spread between our coalition and are asked and partners and it erodes the will of the american people. i recognize that. >> what is your analysis of the leadership of the force of the afghan forces? important. quality and character of the leadership is a crucial elena kagan to any enterprise success.
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you know these people personally, i presume. do you have confidence that these are strong and effective leaders? >> i would characterize the afghan leadership as improving. there are a number of leaders and we're fortunate right now that the minister of defense and minister of interior are in this category. there are a number of leaders that have commitment and vision and strong leadership and are taking appropriate action. it will take time before we have the depth of leadership we need to have a cross the forces, the consistency and continuity of leadership. ,here we see good leadership received good units. we're focusing on quality. leadership development is important. not only officers but noncommissioned officers. we're currently in short 10,000 noncommissioned officers in the army and about 6000 in the police in addressing that efficiency and developing those leaders is a key part of what we need to do over the next zero years to make sure our progress is sustained.
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will we maintain any role in training -- leadership training and that kind of professional development? >> absolutely, senator. that is probably the primary focus of our post-2014 contribution will be advising and assisting in the institutions. where we grow noncommissioned officers, where we develop integrated capability will be among the more important tasks of 2014 is a leadership development. that's the same car coalition partners who will also contribute. >> thank you for your service in this difficult p this difficulteriod. >> thank you, senator. >> uttsenator lee? >> thank you for your service to the country. if the u.s. and afghanistan -- an agreement to keep a u.s.
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troop presence in that country beyond 2014, what are some of the intangible goals the u.s. will be looking for to achieve in that country? is there a certain security metric we're hoping to reach? what would it, take for you to be comfortable in saying that we would no longer at some point need a troop presence in afghanistan? >> the focus post 2014 is all about growing capabilities and capacities in the afghans. some of the remaining challenges start at the ministerial level. the minister of defence on the executed a very small percentage of the budget they had. it was not due to corruption. it was due to bureaucratic inefficiency. growing the capabilities and capacities of the ministry are important to able to sustain our efforts. there are logistics issues.
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having logistic infrastructure in place that can assure distribution of supplies and parts of the way down to the lowest level is an area that needs to continue to be worked on. alsorship development is important. when i start to look at what we need to do pass 2014, our efforts will not be to provide security inside afghanistan. our effort will be to advise the afghan security forces so that what we have done over the past several years is sustainable. we will be able to measure that sustainability overtime and gradually reduce our presence. >> you have the metrics in place to be able to do that? partly have the metrics in place that address where we have to be for proficiency at the ministerial level as well as we have 14 areas be evaluated are tactical unit that allow us to determine where they are and what support they may need to take it to the next level. >> the department of defense is currently spending about $10 warion more conducting the
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effort in afghanistan this year than was estimated would be necessary. from what we understand, in order to make up for the under estimation, the department of defense will have to pull from other funds from its base budget, which is difficult because of cuts we are facing as a result of sequestration and the other long-term spending limits imposed by the budget control act of 2011. the problems with try to budget and plans for a war a year in advance and how unforeseen costs cannot arise. at the same time, a $10 billion miscalculation is a little alarming, especially given all the other forces -- all the other pressures that we face in the department of defense. general, can you explain to us
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how that underestimation occurred? > i am not aware that we underestimated by $10 billion our requirements for this year. i can assure you that we have gone back and look that every dollar that we are spending to make sure we are spending it to good effect and we have significantly reduced, particularly in military construction, significantly reduced money we are spending in afghanistan. i will go back and look at where the projection came from and why we are in the position we are right now. that is not something i was aware of. >> ok. we can follow up on that with you after this hearing. pakistan for aut minute, because it's impossible to cover the gamut of issues. facing in afghanistan without also discussing the influence of pakistan and pakistan's behavior. we have spent billions of
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dollars there since september 2011 for security and for economic assistance. pakistan, some would say, at times seems more of an optical than a partner in the progress of the region, from closing the borders to nato supplies to ties groups,si, to extremist to the lack of cooperation in the hunt for osama bin laden and the subsequent imprisonment of or his assistant to the u.s. what is your assessment of the relationship between the u.s. and pakistan and the relationship between pakistan and afghanistan moving forward? >> first, we all agree that we have vital national interests in pakistan in the sense that the nexus between extremism and nuclear weapons would be catastrophic. i have watched, we have dealt with pakistan over the years.
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in the 1990's we decided to isolate pakistan and then we stop conducting military to military engagements. i now see the adverse effect of that policy that took place for over a decade, because my generation of leaders does not and personal relationships with our pakistani counterparts to work through some of these issues. i think it has to be balanced. it's in our interest to have a strategic partnership with pakistan. we need to manage the relationship with an end in sight, which is that professional and deep strategic partnership over time, which today is something they need to work. with regard to afghanistan/pakistan, my objective before transition in 2014 is to ensure we have a constructive military to military relationship between afghanistan and pakistan. it will be at the tactical level, but i think it can be a foundation for a deeper relationship over time. because theic,
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general and its leaders as all as afghan leaders will meet with me later this month. we have a number of exchanges going on right now. post-king forward to a 2014 environment, do you believe that the multibillion- dollar payments to pakistan should continue regardless of whether or and to what extent there is a continued american presence or continued nato troop presence in afghanistan? >> i believe we need to maintain a very constructive, effective relationship with pakistan. we need to recognize the very real threat pakistan has inside its own borders. from my perspective, we ought to do whatever it takes to ensure our vital national interest in that part of the world's are protected. correct one of the things i'm always looking to in that kind of aid as to whether or not it serves the military purpose.

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